For 16 years, my identity revolved around motherhood. Each decision was made from a mom’s point of view. Whether it was chunky versus creamy or two-door versus four-door, I asked myself, What’s best for my kids? Then one day, my teenage daughter, Lizzy, made a decision. She wanted to move in with her dad. That announcement flipped my world upside down.

While things might have been different in Lizzy’s younger years, I knew the courts viewed her as old enough to make this decision on her own. Now, the bulk of parental responsibilities shifted from me to her father, but instead of enjoying the freedom, I was filled with confusion and doubt. I wasn’t taking care of Lizzy anymore. I wasn’t waking her up every morning and enjoying dinner with her each night. I could no longer remind her to practice her guitar and double-check her homework.

I had mapped out the next few years, and they did not look like this. Who was going to comfort and reassure her? Establish boundaries? Teach her all those important life lessons? Not me. I wasn’t that parent anymore.

With a heavy heart

I felt cheated out of a future with Lizzy and robbed of my identity. Bitterness and resentment threatened to flood my heart. My broken home was even more broken. Lizzy had gone out on her own path much earlier than I anticipated. Was this part of God’s plan?

It took some time, but eventually I stopped sobbing over my shattered hopes and took my eyes off what I thought was best. I realized God had given me an opportunity: This was a chance to teach my daughter unconditional love and learn to trust God with her future. If I let the rejection and hurt take over, this chance would be wasted.

I had done my best over the past 16 years: teaching, talking and lecturing in abundance. That phase was over. In this new season, I had the privilege of allowing Jesus to use my words, actions and example to renew and refresh my daughter at a distance.

Letting go

Lizzy moved out, launching her new adventure. She changed schools and started taking the bus for the first time. All the attitudes and lifestyles I’d tried to shield her from ride home with her every afternoon. Lizzy now watches TV shows and reads magazines that aren’t available in my home. She drives. I can’t regulate what she reads or watches or hears or experiences. I have minimal say-so regarding her Internet use and music choices.

I have so little control! But God is in control. He knew this would happen and He already has a solution in mind. He is the only One who can turn this painful situation around.

Jesus is the author and finisher of Lizzy’s faith – not me. This path is intended for her, and she must walk it. She must discover for herself God’s faithfulness and learn to rely on Him. There’s no plan or scheme I could ever dream up that’s even close to the good, perfect and pleasing will God has for her life.

A new role, a strong hope

I’ve never travelled a road like this before. I may no longer have the same parental duties, but the Lord has defined a new role for me. Modelling grace and forgiveness, embracing Lizzy’s flourishing independence and exalting her strengths – these are my responsibilities. It’s now a choice. I no longer focus on who I can’t be; instead I focus on the One who is more than able to take care of Lizzy.

There’s no denying this situation is hard, but I know Lizzy still needs me and loves me. I know my daughter is a believer and has given her heart to Christ. I can be assured that while I’m letting go now, we have eternity to talk and laugh and be together. There will be a time when I will not have to relish each last hug. I will no longer grieve for all the "mommy" moments I am missing.

Eternity together is our future. In the meantime, I am grateful He sees each of our hearts and knows how to draw both Lizzy and me closer to Him. Knowing what is best, He scraps my small, imperfect plans in favour of His own. In that, I find my hope.

© 2008 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

If you liked this article and would like to go deeper, we have some helpful resources below.

Our recommended resources

Free advice on marriage, parenting and Christian living delivered straight to your inbox

View comments ()